CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Into the Woods

So you’ve set the scene and added the clues, but the forest is still just a place you walk through to get to the real adventure, right? Wrong. The forest can very much be the adventure, as can any other tract of wilderness. What kind of adventures can you have in the forest, though? If you’re not delving in ruins or tunnels what is there to do? Lots.

One of the easiest adventures for players of all levels to get in on is stopping creatures that are no longer acting the way they should. Most predators won’t attack people unless they absolutely must. Even magical beasts and low intelligence aberrations are still just doing what comes naturally. So whether you’re low levels and the town is having a problem with wolves attacking cattle or you’re high level and a much larger predator like the reptilian seb has begun hunting logger, there’s always a place for hunting the overreaching carnivore.

Once you’ve killed the beastie though the questions becomes why? What drives one of these predators to hunt outside their territory? Or kill without feeding at all? Sometimes there’s a corruption in the forest and this is one of the other most common quests to go on in the woods. Sometimes the answer is powerful magics that have leaked into the surround area causing chaos. Being a natural place, the forest might also connect to an elemental plane or the lands of the Fey. Maybe some mortal force is causing this mayhem, such as a deranged ranger or druid.

There are other more intelligent creatures that might use the forest as a lair. Bandits are easily one of the first bad guys early level players might go after. Wooded areas are prime spots for bandits to hide from authorities. In pretty much every D&D setting and, even on Paizo’s Golarion, there is at least one forest filled with Lycanthropes. Dragons may also make their lairs in the root systems of massive trees; the chromatic green dragon from D&D and Pathfinder in particular is known to roost in the forests.

I think my favorite encounters for forest settings are the fey, though. From the simply mischievous to the deadly and malign, the Fey can give many reason to venture into the woods. With varying levels of power and a vast array of interesting magical abilities they can be a fun encounter for any level group. The great thing about Fey is they don’t have to be combat encounters, many Fey have courtly–if alien–ways about them and negotiating with the faerie folk can lead to interesting twists for your players.

Lastly, many a magical potion or spell requires a special component to complete. These ingredients are often found in far flung forests; within their deepest, darkest hearts. The quest for one of these items is another adventure that could challenge players of any level. Most rare ingredients are not only rare because they don’t grow in quantity, but also because the place they inhabit are hard to get to or infested with dangerous creatures. Ravenous plant monsters or steam jungles full of long thought extinct dinosaurs may well stand between you and that one last item you need to cast a powerful spell and save the kingdom.

And that about closes out this series on forest adventuring. Hopefully it entices you to make the woods more than just an obstacle to getting from point A to point B, with random things leaping out at your party. These are just a few ideas on what you can do in the woods, and as always I’d love to hear about your wilderness adventures. Until next time make sure to leave out that trail of breadcrumbs.

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1 comment:

  1. I love your take on the woods - I remember when I first played Dragon Age: Origins and my camp got attacked - that random event brought more life to my campaign and connection to the world to anything else in that adventure - I'll have to keep this in mind next time I DM.